Posted 2 May, 2023
Quit and Cancer Council Victoria applaud national announcement of tough new measures to counter soaring e-cigarette usage
02 May 2023
Cancer Council Victoria and Quit have expressed huge relief at the announcement by Minister Butler today of a comprehensive package of measures to tackle smoking and vaping.
Mr Todd Harper, CEO Cancer Council Victoria congratulated Mr Mark Butler for his leadership. “The current high levels of use of e-cigarettes among non-smokers is a public health emergency, with tens of thousands rapidly developing addicted patterns of use, and the long-term health consequences of vaping completely unknown.”
Smoking rates in Victoria have fallen from 34% in 1983 to just over 12% in 2022. Smoking among teenagers when last measured was at a record low.
Despite considerable success in tobacco control over decades, in just three years between 2018-19 and 2022, the prevalence of use of e-cigarettes significantly increased in Victoria. Current use across the adult population doubled from 1.6% to 3.5%. Of the 308,000 Victorian adults who reported using e-cigarettes in 2022, more than half were 18–29 years of age, including almost 100,000 aged between 18 and 25. Current use of e-cigarettes among young women aged 18–24 years increased five-fold during this same time period.
A staggering 77,200 Victorian adults who had previously never smoked started vaping between 2018-19 and 2022. Analysis of international research conducted by the ANU for the Australian Government found that young people who vape are three times more likely to take up smoking.
Quit Director, Matthew Scanlon said the organisation had at times felt powerless to stop the wave of nicotine addiction. “We have watched in horror as use by young people in Victoria has rapidly increased over the past three years. Just when smoking rates among teenagers were approaching zero, we have seen a new vaping epidemic take off like wildfire.
The increase in e-cigarette use among young people threatens to de-rail decades of world-leading progress in reducing smoking”.
“The Minister announcing plans to stop the flood of imported e-cigarettes at the Australian border is a crucial first step which now must be matched by rapid and decisive action at the state level.” Mr Harper said.
“No-one should be allowed to profit from selling a dangerous and addictive product” he added. “We are heartened to hear that Minister Butler will be working with the Victorian Government to bring to an end the sale of vaping products outside the medical access framework.”
The measures announced by Minister Butler today also include proposals to reduce the attractiveness of nicotine vaping products to children, and funding for education campaigns and services to support smokers to quit such as 1:1 counselling available through Quitline (call 13 7848 or online via quit.org.au).
“These new measures include the making it easier for people who smoke to obtain a prescription for nicotine vaping products to aid smoking cessation”, said Scanlon. “Doctors play a vital role in prescribing patients first-line therapies that have been tested for safety and efficacy. They can also monitor patients wishing to use unapproved products to quit smoking and refer patients to Quitline for support with giving up vaping.”
Quit and Cancer Council Victoria submissions to the TGA’s public consultation on nicotine vaping products urged the Federal Government to restrict access to harmful and addictive vaping products. We look forward to continued collaboration with all levels of government to support and strengthen legislation and regulation which aims to reduce the social and human costs of smoking and nicotine addiction borne by the Victorian community.
Senior Media Advisor Quit - Prue Gildea
P: (03) 9514 6577
 Bayly M, Mitsopoulos E, Durkin S, and Scollo M. E-cigarette use and purchasing behaviour among Victorian adults: Findings from the 2018-19 and 2022 Victorian Smoking and Health Surveys. Prepared for: Quit Victoria. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria: Melbourne, Australia, 2022. Available from: https://www.cancervic.org.au/downloads/cbrc/R22_MB_E-cigarette%20use%20and%20purchasing%20behaviour%20among%20Victorian%20adults.pdf
 Banks E, Yazidjoglou A, Brown S, Nguyen M, Martin M, et al. Electronic cigarettes and health outcomes: systematic review of global evidence. Report for the Australian Department of Health. Canberra: National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, 2022. Available from: https://nceph.anu.edu.au/research/projects/health-impacts-electronic-cigarettes#health_outcomes.